Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thoughts on Paper

It has been well over a year since I blogged on this space, but it has been far from an uneventful one. In that time, I got married, assumed new responsibilities at work, created two new blogs and most importantly, finished my book.

The other two blogs I created were designed to provide a much-needed split from my politically-themed tomes especially as they are more niche areas which are of interest to me. One is www.clean-efficiency.com, which is a social entrepreneurial venture I am pioneering around energy efficiency and sustainable development. The other is www.ourbeachcity.wordpress.com, which I started with my wife and details our global travel adventures.

Finishing the book was important to me and in order to do so, I purposely stayed away from commenting on socio-political issues affecting Africa in order to channel my creative juices towards the literary effort. The book is entitled "A Rainy Season" and it is a non-fictional account of life in Lagos, Nigeria during the turbulent days of the mid- to late-nineties, seen through the eyes of eight different protagonists. Putting my thoughts on paper in that most indelible of forms is thrilling as I cover many of the issues my writing in this blog and other news outlets has touched on.
I will be providing a more detailed synopsis and information on obtaining a copy of the book in a future posting. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Funding African Entrepreneurs

This was an interesting article written by Loren Treisman of the Indigo Foundation, a grant-making foundation that funds technology-driven projects that seek to bring about social change in Africa.
Do African Entrepreneurs Need Charity?

In the main, I agree with the premise of her piece, articulated around three main points:

- Information technology is key to realizing the full potential of developing economies, especially in bringing about the reforms required to spark said economies.

- The best solutions to Africa's challenges are likely to come from the communities affected by them; a completely different development paradigm to what has obtained historically.

- Investment is required to make these enterprises and start-ups self-sustaining and drive them towards their stated goals.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Micro-Generation: A Key to Africa's Future

Just over a year ago, a friend asked me to contribute a writeup to her blog on Innovation. I've reproduced it below, especially as this is a topic which is near and dear to my heart. Enjoy.

Some of the key questions facing the growing economies in Africa - especially in regards to improving infrastructure and creating new avenues for revenue generation – revolve around energy. The how, where, which, who and what of energy.

How can Africa's vast potential to generate energy be harnessed?
Where will this energy come from?
Which forms of energy will be exploited?
Who will be responsible for developing these energy sources - the government or private enterprise?
What measures will be taken to ensure the sustainability - not just the renewability - of said energy?

As is usual with questions like these, there are easy answers which require complex solutions, not to mention an acute awareness of the infrastructure and socio-political climate on the ground.

This space is not enough for these questions to be answered with the required depth and technical detail, but I'm of the opinion that infrastructure development in Africa has to go past the fossil-powered 20th century and be driven by sustainable sources of energy. One of these is microgeneration, which I rank highly due to its ability to aid in development and revenue generation.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Little Of Everything

I've been away from the blogosphere for too long and for three primary reasons. The main reason has been my recent desire to focus less on discussing situations that appear untenable for the time being (i.e. Nigeria's hopeless political situation). I'm also determined to 'do more, talk less' when it comes to development issues facing black people the world over, and have recently taken steps (graduate studies at the London School of Economics) to fine-tune my abilities to combine the technical with the economic when preaching the sustainable development gospel.

Other, more salient reasons include my upcoming wedding (who knew planning it could be as involved as it's been? Thank God for my bride) and almost as importantly, the recent completion (sans some editing) of my book, which is a story of everyday life in Nigeria circa 1990s. More information on that will be forthcoming.

I will endeavor to post more to the blog, but these will focus more on economics and development-themed issues.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Season of Change?

It's that time of the year - in temperate, northern hemisphere countries anyway - when the snow has melted and even the cool spring mornings are getting to be a thing of the past as we herald the start of the 'fun' season known as summer. In the tropics, the heavy rains and attendant clean fresh air have swept in (along with the attendant flooding if you happen to live in a place where the government is more interested in lining its pockets than shoring up drainage systems). Quite literally, change is in the air.

For students and alumni of the University of Lagos, Nigeria, this change came about in a more shocking way when they woke up on May 29th to find out that their dear alma mater had been renamed Moshood Abiola University.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Bahamas - a model for African Democracies

One of the common misconceptions about the stagnant development of African countries (and here I'm separating socio-economic and political development from raw economic growth) is that they were set up for failure by colonial powers, be it the United Kingdom, France, Spain or Portugal. The argument is that the systems, institutions and laws/policies put into place have somehow 'handicapped' African countries and prevented them from progressing in 'their own way'. We hear about the 'Nigerian' or 'Ghanaian' or 'Ugandan' way of doing something, as if those countries existed in their present forms before colonization!
Of course, these are merely excuses for poor fiscal management, ridiculously high levels of corruption and lack of infrastructure development, primarily around education, healthcare, transportation networks, security and energy (electrical power, in particular).

Recently I decided to visit the Bahamas, a trip influenced by the fact that my fiancee is from there. She had talked up the Bahamas before our visit, and I knew a lot about the history of the country, including its reputation as the 'Luxembourg' of the Caribbean (assuming the Cayman Islands is the 'Switzerland', and Turks & Caicos the 'Liechtenstein'). My historical knowledge and personal ties to the Bahamas could not prepare me for the level of development (again, not just economic!) that I witnessed. The road networks were fantastic, power was as regular as anywhere else in the developed world, the hospitals and schools looked to be top-notch; and the roads were well maintained. In its makeup, is the Bahamas really that different from any African country?

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Confounding Legacy of an African Freedom Fighter

Nelson Mandela.
Robert Mugabe.
Emeka Ojukwu.

All freedom fighters. Men who are revered by their followers. Men who at their peak were hated but importantly, respected by their enemies. Men who impacted their countries and indeed, the world. What is their legacy?

Nelson Mandela had to be hospitalized last week and was treated to a hero's welcome upon his return home. The eulogies that have poured in for him - even in life - exceed those of several statesmen who have passed on. You can imagine that his death, whenever that is, will be mourned globally. Yet this is a man who at the height of his freedom fighting was plotting to blow up installations and destroy the country's economy in a bid to end apartheid. Today, he is a statesman and global legend almost without compere.

Robert Mugabe was probably regarded as the finest freedom fighter since Che Guevara. A charismatic man who could whip up the fervor of any crowd, he went through several personal deprivations in order to ensure that Zimbabwe was free from the shackles of Ian Smith's Rhodesia and was globally regarded when he accomplished this (except in the UK, perhaps). Yet it didn't take long for him to slip down the slope of extra-judicial killings, corruption and nepotism. Today, Mugabe has lost his entire store of goodwill in the international community. His death, whenever it comes, will likely be greeted with more cheers than tears.

The legacies of these two are pretty clear-cut. The third man on my list - Emeka Ojukwu - confounds and confounds totally.

Emeka Ojukwu was buried in Nnewi, Southeast Nigeria, today. An Oxford-educated, silver-tongued orator and Army officer who led the breakaway Republic of Biafra when it seceded from Nigeria in 1967 until its collapse in 1970, Ojukwu and his legacy is a topic that has provoked many a heated discussion in Nigeria from then till now.